On Sunday, the 2017 NCAA tournament bracket was released and by now, you have likely signed up to fill out one of your own. Whether you are doing one through work, with friends or in B5Q’s bracket pool, you may be still be having trouble making your picks.
The following rules will help you find bracket glory.
Go with your gut
Picking winners and losers is a 50/50 game of chance. Odds are, if you’re reading this, you’ve filled out one of these before or have paid some attention to the college basketball season. You may know a thing or two, so trust yourself.
Pay attention to seeds
No. 16 seeds are 0-128 against No. 1 seeds. No. 15 seeds haven’t fared much better against No. 2 seeds at 7-121, so you can rest assured that North Carolina will defeat Texas Southern.
That being said, don’t shy away from an upset. Baylor has lost in the first round as a top-five seed in back-to-back seasons... although no team has done so three years in a row.
A surefire upset most seasons is a No. 12 seed defeating a No. 5 seed. From 2008-14, No. 12 seeds won 15 of 28 games. In fact, since 1985, No. 12 seeds have failed to win a game during just four tournaments: 1988, 2000, 2007 and 2015.
In 2016, two No. 12 seeds won as Yale defeated Baylor and Little Rock defeated Purdue.
Don’t forget higher seeds can also wind up in the Final Four, as Wisconsin did in 2000 when the Badgers wound up as a No. 8 seed. See where they are again this year?
Fill out your bracket with a pen
Even in 2017, some people still complete a paper bracket. Just like when filling out a crossword puzzle, you should use pen.
Do some research
Google comes in handy this time of year when looking up team rankings, records against top-25 teams and RPI rankings. Basically all of the things the committee uses when filling out the bracket.
Battle of the Mascots
This one is simple: who would win in a fight? For instance, the Butler Bulldogs play the Winthrop Eagles. Who you got, a bulldog or an eagle?
Sometimes it can be difficult to make a choice due to the mascots being a little... odd, such as with Wichita State and Dayton. Shockers and Flyers? Better move on to another tie-breaker.
Flip a coin
If you assign one school heads and the other tails and you get upset when you flip heads/tails, you know you actually should have picked the other school all along. Otherwise, if you’re happy with the end result, don’t think too much into it.
Buddy the elf, what’s your favorite color? Take a peek at the school colors for each of the teams in question and whichever tickles your fancy is the winner.
School with the hottest/most famous alumni
This one may take some research, but it’s worth it to learn trivia.
Did you know that both Modern Family’s Ty Burrell and Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Kaitlin Olson went to Oregon?
Say you can’t decide between Michigan and Oklahoma State. Lucy Liu, Madonna, Selma Blair, Tom Brady and James Earl Jones all attended Michigan. Gary Busey, James Marsden and Barry Sanders all attended OK State.
Zooey Deschanel went to Northwestern and Molly Sims went to Vanderbilt. Deschanel stars in New Girl and Northwestern is new to the tournament—coincidence? I think not.
Ashley Judd helped guide me to a bracket pool victory in 1998 when Kentucky won the championship. I got backed into a corner and used this tiebreaker to win $30.
Hopefully these rules and tie-breakers will help you while filling out your brackets. Have fun, don’t bet too much money and may the odds ever be in your favor.